Planning the Perfect Event Videographer

Special Event Videography – Top Tips to Ensure a Successful Video Shoot

When I create a film for a client, my heart and soul goes into it. I may not have the head of a poet, but I am aware of adhering to the cornerstones of videography which will stack the odds in my favour of creating a good film. If you follow the basics, the poetry will eventually follow.

Plan Your Shoot

Don’t turn up cold and expect everything to fall into place, have a plan, have a contingency plan, and in fact have a third plan just in case your first two were really stupid. Nothing will make you look less professional in front of your client than being stumped by the unexpected. Your film needs to tell a story and it is your job to provide yourself the opportunities to be able to gather all the facets together that will enable you to tell that story effectively. Be prepared but also be flexible.

Stripe Your Tapes

Non-linear editing suites use time codes to automatically capture scenes from tape. Any breaks in the time codes, caused by stopping and starting recording, will cause this feature to stall. Ensure there are no gaps by placing the lens cap on the camera and pressing record for the entire tape. Rewind the tape and it is ready to go. And please write on the tape, the tape case and use some sort of clapperboard so you know what, where and who is on the tape. Hunt For The Digital Video is an unnecessary and time consuming game and not to be played while driving to a client’s house.

Get an Establishing Shot

Grab the viewer’s attention, inspire curiosity, impart enough information to engage the viewer. Think about films, images or photographs that have had an impact on you. What were the elements that stood out for you, how can you duplicate them or replicate them to suit your filming requirements. Personally, I have always been emotionally moved by Apocalypse Now and the scene where the severed head is thrown into the prisoner’s bamboo cage to land face up in his lap. However, I am yet to duplicate it and work it into a baby film. Be discerning.

Capture Lots of Footage

As a general rule you should shoot approximately five to six times the amount of film that you will eventually use. It may take time but trust me, when it comes to putting your film together you want a lot of shots to choose from. You may have planned and executed the perfect shot and find that one of your off the cuff filler shots works far better.

Use a Tripod

Invest in a fluid head tripod and get steady, level shots. Your film will look very amateurish if it is all over the place, unless of course you are having a poet moment and you specifically want that look, in which case we will call it a special effect.

Dress Like You Belong There

As a photographer, there are plenty of times when you can go to work in jeans and a t-shirt, after all clients aren’t watching you do post production.  When photographing a special event however, you should dress like you belong there and blend in with the crowd.  This doesn’t necessarily mean a suit and tie every time for men, or that a blazer is necessary for women, but slacks/dressy pants, comfortable, low key, black shoes and a nice shirt/blouse usually are a must.  If it is a higher end event you men should be sure to wear a suit coat and tie while women should wear a blazer if they feel it is necessary.  If you’re unsure of the appropriate attire, always err on the side of safety if you’re over dressed you can always take the coat off and stick the tie in your pocket.

Take Pre-event Shots

While it may be an afterthought for your client at the event, the event planner responsible for dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s will love that you captured shots of the room prior to the guests arrival. Not only will it be something they can use to sell their services in the future, it will also allow them to catalog the set-up in case they have a very similar type of event in the space again. This will prove invaluable to the client and should be the way you start any event.

Know when to use flash

Us photographers love the feel of natural lightning. However, understanding how and when to use artificial light can be of great value in low-light situations and environments.

Indoors: Churches, Weddings, Corporate Events

When taking event photography indoors, it is strongly recommended that you use an external flash where it can be bounced off a white ceiling or wall for a more natural look. Remember TTL mode is your best friend when it comes to using external flashes. Though, don’t be afraid to adjust your flash exposure compensation for greater results.

Outdoors – Festivals, Sports

I know a lot of photographers who don’t bother with flash outdoors, or they think flash looks unnatural. You’ve just got to use it in the right situations; when your subject is poorly lit, when shooting backlight or overpowering the sun to avoid heavy shadows.

Frame the shot

Groups of 3 – 5 people landscape is a good shoot composition. Mix up your shots with full body, medium shots and head shots. Crop tightly and avoid white or blank space unless that is the look you are going for. Step back a bit and use a longer focal length. You don’t want distortion now do you?

Audio is crucial, have backups ready.

There are no re-“I Dos” in weddings. If you don’t capture things as they happen, then you didn’t do your job. It’s best to have multiple audio sources recording. Does your camera capture quality sound? If not, have external recorders ready to go. Try to avoid putting the mic on a bride, instead go for a lavalier microphone on the officiant or groom.

If the DJ is running sound, you may be able to plug into their sound board. That’s why it is beneficial to have talked to the DJ before hand. Keep in mind every DJ is different, so it’s no guarantee that you will get quality sound. That’s why you should only rely on them for backup audio.

Prepare for low light situations.

Evening receptions can be a nightmare for wedding filmmakers. Indoor or outdoor, it will probably be dark. After dinner is served, venues dim the lights so the party can begin.  Hopefully you and the DJ also talked about his light setup, but you will still need your own lights to help you get certain shots.

If your camera doesn’t handle low light well, keep in mind that guests don’t want to be blinded by video lights all night. When you use lights, be sure to use them sparingly. Don’t kill the mood by leaving them on during the entire reception.

Lose the gear, lose the stigma

The general public can’t seem to shake the clichéd idea from the 1990s of somebody with the huge video camera at weddings. There’s some fantastic technology around, from drones to Steadicams: but stop and think for a minute. Don’t be that guy getting in the way, doing circles around the dance floor… or the guy with the annoying buzzing helicopter, or the massive fluffy microphone that’s obviously recording everything you say. Try stripping it back to just your camera. Master how to use it properly: it could be the best decision you make.

Adopt simpler cinematic techniques

Although I favour a documentary approach, I still believe the results can be ‘cinematic’. Here are some ideas to try.


When you’re filming ceremonies or speeches, think about the perspective of the guests. When we watch a movie conversation, we see camera positions that represent the viewpoint of the person listening. During a wedding our listeners are almost always sitting down – yet most videographers position their tripods high up and far away. Try replicating a guest’s perspective: pull up a seat, get close and shoot from low down.

Movement that represents the moment

See in movies how the camera movements echo what’s happening. A conversation seated in a cafe is virtually static, while a fight scene is often shot in quite a messy style with lots of camera movement. It helps to bring the audience into a scene, and we can incorporate the same techniques into a wedding.

Think about the scenes in a typical wedding day. The Preparations (some movement), Speeches (virtually none) Confetti and post ceremony hugs (lots of movement) Dancing (again, lots of movement). It’s a cinematic technique that involves just the camera and doesn’t draw any additional attention to yourself. It’s just about deciding whether to stabilise using a tripod or monopod or whether to go handheld.


If you’re filming with two or more cameras during the speeches, try and place your subjects in a position that represents a conversation between the different angles. For example the subject in camera one is placed to the left in conversation with camera two who’s subject is framed on the right. It’s another simple ‘cinematic’ technique.

What Equipment Do You Need To Be A Wedding Photographer


A well considered wedding day photography timeline can make all the difference when the big day rolls around. With all the preparation that you will have put into finding and working with the best suppliers for your wedding day, it’s no small feat to plan out what happens when. In photographing weddings, I’ve found that there’s often a direct relationship between there being enough time for photographs and the day running smoothly and stress-free for all involved, not just the photographer. I don’t think that this is a coincidence!

In my old career, I used to run a lot of projects. I spent a lot of time advising people against bunching milestones together, trying to pack too much in, and not leaving any time for the unexpected. When I started shooting weddings, I noticed some of the exact same issues coming up. Naturally, I also saw many things go very well! Over time, I’ve come to understand what brides and grooms can do – with a little advance planning – to make their wedding days run like clockwork (and be even more awesome as a result).

When planning a wedding day, there’s a whole bunch of people to consider. Obviously, the guests have got to know where to go and when, the ceremony often has timings that are set in stone and all of the different suppliers will want to know when to start the music, serve the starters, and crack open the bubbly. But, at its most basic, there are the only three parts of any wedding day: before the ceremony, the ceremony itself and after the ceremony. Your wedding may have many different things going on compared to someone else’s. However, it will still fit into those three parts. When considering how your day is photographed, a few minor changes or tweaks to the timings can make all the difference – so that’s what we’ll be focusing on here.


A wedding day photography timeline always starts at the very beginning: getting ready! If there’s just one photographer in action, then they will be with the bride. A second photographer can be with the groom getting ready, and can get to the ceremony location a little earlier than the main photographer to start getting photos of people arriving.


Details of both the bride and groom

Candids of the bride and bridesmaids getting ready

Candids of the groom and groomsmen getting ready

Portraits of the bride

Portraits of the groom

Departing for the ceremony


I travel all over the country from my home-base shooting special days for clients on film and I’ve spent years honing the craft. Film, as a medium in wedding photography, has made a resurgence in popularity in recent years for outdoor-centric couples, and has become a common option in the photography game.

It’s no surprise that more and more brides are starting to catch on to the differences between film wedding photographers vs digital wedding photographers (read more about why you should choose a film photographer here). Now that film shooters are an option for most clients – I wanted to make a point to aid those brides and grooms seeking a film wedding photographer be prepared before they sign on the dotted line.

In this article, I’ll help answer some frequently asked questions about film wedding photography, suggest questions that you should ask any film photographer you’re considering hiring for your wedding, and let you in on the important details you should know going into your search. Have you already read the below and decided you want to inquire about my own film photography for wedding days? I’d love to chat

Will film images look different than that of a digital shooter? Yes! Film images look different than digital images. Film photographs can retain more highlights, dynamic range, creamier image compression for backgrounds, a smoother blending of light and tone, more true-to-life color palette, a more appealing grain, and overall more aesthetically pleasing texture and controlled vibrancy.

How are these film images uploaded or edited? Once the photographs are taken on film rolls, they are given to a film lab who then processes them, and scans the wedding negatives into the computer at a high resolution. These images are then uploaded online and given to the photographer for final review. The photographer can edit images, and will delivery them in the exact same way (as High-Resolution, downloadable JPEG files) no matter whether images are taken on film or digital cameras


You’re planning on having the most fun possible in one day. Your wedding is all about your favourite people, the food, and the music. You want photographs of people, not stuff. People having the best time. You want photographs that aren’t planned. Photographs to remind you of how it felt to be there. Real. Unposed. Informal. Fun.

isn’t posed, even if occasionally it looks posed. It’s about you being you and forgetting the camera is there. It’s about fun, and love, and having a bloody good laugh. It’s about real people doing real things.

Unposed. Real. Totally freaking epic pictures to relive forlikever how it felt to be there. That show the mavericks personalities in every shot. Confirm they had the best fun they’d ever had in one day and are champions at throwing a wedding to remember.

Things Your Wedding Photographer Wishes You Knew

A wedding is one of those rare occasions when you already have everything you need to create incredible, heartfelt pictures. You have the romance, the people, the killer outfits, the amazing backdrop — you just need the perfect person to capture it all. With so many wedding photographers to choose from, it’s important to pick someone who gets who you are as a couple and your wedding style. Lucky for you, we’ve got an inside source that is ready to tell you everything your wedding pro wishes they could

Be yourself, have fun, and pick a photographer you like as a person. So “have fun” might sound like a given, but a lot of the time, brides feel pressure to feel or look a certain way on their wedding day. Believe us when we say that you will always look your best when you are relaxed and happy — especially when you’re being photographed. “Make sure you feel comfortable with your photographer, and you have a good rapport. They will be there the whole day with you, and in some intimate moments,” says. “It’s as important you like the person behind the camera as much as you like their work. That way you can have more fun and take it all in!”

Give them all the deets. Make sure your photographer knows everything that’s important to you. This means your schedule, details, group photos, all of it. Knowing all of the details in advance means there’s nothing more to figure out, and lets them capture all the spontaneous memories that happen as they go. With a solid plan in place, your photographer will be there to capture it all so that you can enjoy your day.

Smile more than you think is cool. “I sometimes see brides who hold back on smiling because they don’t want to look fake in their wedding portraits,” explains. “Ironically, you can look even more awkward when you’re holding back rather than showing your genuine emotion and happiness.”

Awkward is charming. Real feelings and moments are timeless. Your big day will be filled with so much emotion — allow for things to be natural and imperfect instead of trying to constantly control how you look. says, “A good photographer will figure out the most flattering lenses and angles for you. It’s their job to worry about it, not yours!”

Things to Do Right Now to Book More Weddings

Lately, we’ve been getting a ton of emails from photographers who are starting to panic a little. It’s November. It’s cold outside. And it’s feeling pretty darn cold in their inboxes, too. Their inquiries have slowed down and all but stopped, and they’re just not sure if they’ll ever book another wedding again. EVER. And they want to know: is there anything they can do?

If you’ve been finding yourself in the same boat as these guys lately, here are ten things that you can do right now to help turn the tides:

Be thankful for the clients you already have. Tell them you’re thankful. Send them an email, write them a handwritten note, or send them a gift. Remind them (and yourself!) that they are the reason you get to chase your dream.

Pick one venue where you have done some of your best work and would want to shoot there again and again, and make your contact a sample album. Not next month or “at some point” (whenever that is), but today. Seriously, just do it already. Take an hour and design it. Upload the order. Pull the trigger and get it done.

While you’re at it, send some images to your vendors! If you use PASS or a similar program, or if you have a video business card, it’s only a matter of sending an email. It takes 30 seconds, but it makes a world of difference.

Pick that one vendor (planner, location, florist, etc.) who has sent you a lot of referrals or helped you get started and send them a gift — a nice one. They deserve it!

Go through your website with a machete and slash and burn. Get everything off there that is outdated, underwhelming, or just plain bad. If I were going to look at it with you in person and you would tell me that you’ve “gotten so much better since then,” then what is it still doing welcoming brand new clients to your website?

Find some other photographers to hang out with. Go to a meetup, host a lunch, or send out that intro email. Meet up and do headshots for each other. See if anyone is interested in sharing a Google calendar to refer each other (and give really good referrals when you do). There is strength in numbers. Plus, sometimes you just need someone who understands when you say “the client wants to do pictures at high noon on the beach.” Oy.

Make a “best of” folder on Facebook. Add all of your best (truly best, like 50 or less images) work from last year. Re-tag everyone that’s in it.

Re-write your “About Me” page. You know it needs it; I know it needs it. Make a video or write something that will make a potential client fall in love with you.

Run a November booking special. Everyone who books by the end of the month gets a complimentary engagement shoot or an extra hour of coverage. Or the first season of Downton Abbey. You choose.

Get your stuff together, put on your brave pants, and submit some weddings! Take your work to where the brides are. Two Bright Lights is an excellent resource for streamlining this process and taking the guesswork out of it if you need a good place to start.

The Popularity Of The Adagio With Dance DJs

Tips To Pick Your DJ

Finding the right DJ is imperative to ensure your wedding happens just as you planned. A great DJ can take your wedding to a level you never imagined. However, a bad DJ can make it a nightmare. Below are 5 tips to guide you through the process of finding the perfect DJ for your wedding


One of the single most determining factors in the decision making process should be experience. You can plan every detail to the exact second, but no wedding occurs exactly as planned. There is a flow to weddings and an experienced DJ will make any change or delay appear like it was planned and rehearsed. In fact, a proactive DJ will anticipate common situations and prepare accordingly. You spent hours upon hours planning, scheduling and stressing about every single detail, the last thing you want is to do is spend your entire wedding worrying that something will be missed. A great DJ can put you at ease because he or she has all the necessary details and the ability to improvise should things change or fall behind.


Deciding a budget for entertainment can be very challenging because prices can range anywhere from $300 to $3,000. Many DJ companies offer various pricing packages along with a la carte options, travel fees, and/or per hour add-ons. Similar to buying a car, you have to be aware of what the overall price will be after all the add-ons, extra time, additional audio system (for the ceremony, cocktail hour etc…), and additional fees.

You also have to consider you get what you pay for. Although often overlooked as not being one of the most important vendors, the DJ/Emcee controls the flow for the entire wedding. With all that responsibility, you need to know that he or she has what it takes to make your day perfect

Meet with the DJ and make sure he or she will actually be you DJ

Make sure to meet with your DJ before you book. You want to get a feel for his/her personality and mannerisms. Especially if you want your DJ to also emcee the event, overall appearance and professionalism is key. You should feel comfortable having conversation during the consultation.

How to Select Songs As a DJ

The true mark of a quality DJ is his/her ability to satisfy the crowd and keep people engaged. To be able to truly connect with one’s audience entails much more than playing records or doing fancy tricks. Playing the right songs and stringing them together in a cohesive fashion is the most important thing for a DJ and can be the difference between an event’s failure success. Here’s a little guide on how to choose the right songs when dj-ing an event.

Set the tone. Remember that you are creating the mood and atmosphere of the event, so think about what is appropriate. To set the tone, you should take a few things into consideration

Feel out the crowd. Now that you’ve found your starting point and have determined what genres might work best, it’s time to start honing in on what the crowd wants. The first few songs you play for a new audience are like an introduction, so it’s smart to play it a little bit safe until you get better acquainted. Depending on the crowd, top 40’s music is usually a safe bet, since most people hear these songs on a daily basis. Once you get a sense of which jams they respond to, you can decide what to play next to really satisfy them.

Build up the energy. Get them to crawl before they run. If you start off an event with too much excitement, there’s nowhere to go after that and everything else will seem a little disappointing. Also, people might not be ready for craziness right away. More often than not, folks are a little more reserved at the beginning of a party, so it’s important to use your music to stretch their social muscles and get them fully loosened up. As a DJ, you are in charge of bringing the party to its climax and sustaining it as long as possible. Make sure to build up the energy first so they have something to look forward to.

Experiment and don’t be afraid to disappoint. Once you’ve managed to figure out what works with the crowd, you can start digging deeper into their musical tastes or even get them to fall in love with something they didn’t realize was missing from their lives. But, when you are attempting to expose people to something new, it’s important that you build a foundation of trust first. That way they’re more likely to accept something unfamiliar. If that has already been achieved, then its time to really make your mark and separate yourself from the pack. Remember that you will not always please everyone, but at the same time you can’t be great unless you take chances

How To Choose The Right DJ For Your Wedding

What do you think your guests will remember most when your wedding is over? The first thing most guests say when asked about a wedding is whether they had fun or not. That means the atmosphere of your wedding is what will impact yours and your guests’ memory of your big day. Guess who controls the environment? The DJ!!

Choosing the right DJ can make or break your wedding. Hiring the first DJ available for your wedding is far from the best way to choose the right DJ for your wedding. Once you have the right DJ booked for your wedding, you can really have some fun focusing on other parts of your wedding planning.

Prepare Interview Questions

Hiring a DJ is like hiring someone for any position at any business. You want someone who is qualified and the experience you’re looking for. Would you hire a baker to make your wedding cake if they’ve never made a cake before? Probably not. This means you should come ready with interview questions

Ask Your Recommendations

If you have married friends, they are the first people you should ask for recommendations. You can even use your friends to expand your network for finding the right DJ for your wedding. Some wedding venues have a preferred vendor list that includes DJs, so you can be confident you’ll be in good hands if your venue is recommending a certain company or individual.

Read Reviews

Just like with other wedding services, there are likely reviews and testimonials online for a DJ you are considering. You may have to do some digging to find any reviews on one-man-shops. If you can’t find any reviews, that might be a cause for concern.

Tips To Choose Good Djs For Your Party


One of the single most determining factors in the decision making process should be experience. You can plan every detail to the exact second, but no wedding occurs exactly as planned. There is a flow to weddings and an experienced DJ will make any change or delay appear like it was planned and rehearsed. In fact, a proactive DJ will anticipate common situations and prepare accordingly. You spent hours upon hours planning, scheduling and stressing about every single detail, the last thing you want is to do is spend your entire wedding worrying that something will be missed. A great DJ can put you at ease because he or she has all the necessary details and the ability to improvise should things change or fall behind.


Deciding a budget for entertainment can be very challenging because prices can range anywhere from $300 to $3,000. Many DJ companies offer various pricing packages along with a la carte options, travel fees, and/or per hour add-ons. Similar to buying a car, you have to be aware of what the overall price will be after all the add-ons, extra time, additional audio system (for the ceremony, cocktail hour etc…), and additional fees

Meet with the DJ and make sure he or she will actually be you DJ

Make sure to meet with your DJ before you book. You want to get a feel for his/her personality and mannerisms. Especially if you want your DJ to also emcee the event, overall appearance and professionalism is key. You should feel comfortable having conversation during the consultation.


You need to make sure that the emcee you hire for your wedding fits the style of wedding your looking for. One of the best clues to discovering the right person is the first impression you get when you meet. Some DJ’s try to be too outgoing, over the top and end up sounding “cheesy”. Other DJ’s are more DJ’s than anything and have a hard time making announcements and speaking in front of large groups. A good DJ/Emcee will find a healthy balance between the two. For most weddings, the Bride and Groom just want their guests to have a great time so the DJ has to know how to use the microphone effectively.


You can find a DJ with great personality, experience, talent, affordable prices, but it is imperative he or she uses the proper professional equipment. Beginning with the sound, professional speakers make all the difference in the world. Professional mics are also important. You don’t want microphone to cut in and out of signal because of insufficient range. There are also many different types of microphones for different applications. Make sure your DJ has the right type of mic for your event. A DJ should also have backup equipment in the event of technical difficulties

How to Choose the Right DJ for Your Wedding

The DJ you hire for your wedding reception sets the tone for the whole event. They will act as the emcee, make announcements, and be responsible for organizing your guests as well as mixing the music at the right time. It goes without saying that you want a DJ with superb social skills and a great personality. Of course, they’ll need to know a lot about music. They need to entertain tastefully, and not overpower your celebration. But will they be a good fit for you? We’ve put together some tips on how to choose the right DJ for your wedding.

Get a Feel for Their Personality

Experienced DJ companies will have bios of their DJ staff on their websites. They will also have DJs of all styles, so whether you want trendy or traditional, rowdy or conservative, the more you research and communicate your personality preference with the DJ company the better. The best DJ companies will also have options for hiring specific DJs who are very popular and highly sought-after. You may find it money well spent to upgrade to reserve a specific DJ if that personalized service is important to you. Ask if they have a package that allows you to reserve one of these more popular DJs which includes a face-to-face meeting with the DJ in person before your reception.

Know Their Style and Music Preferences

The online bios from a DJ company’s website will also help you select DJs who like the same style of music as you. A great DJ company will have DJs who specialize in any music genre. Ask the DJ what kind of music they personally like. Hiring a DJ who has a similar taste in music to yours will make things easier. If you’re a fan of country music, having a DJ that also likes country will ensure that great songs are played all night. Having a similar interest allows the DJ to suggest songs that you might not know about and provide a deeper playlist to create a richer experience on your big day

Have the Freedom to Customize Your Reception

Make sure your DJ company has the option to customize your entire reception with current software. The best DJ companies have designed proprietary Online Event Planners that allow you to customize every aspect of your wedding reception. Take the time to log into a company’s sample Online Event Planner and see for yourself if it is interactive and easy to use. There is a big difference in quality in these planning tools and a little research is well worth your time. You should be able to customize all crowd participation, announcements, and music. Ask the company if you can select as little or as much music as you want. View their online music database and see if it’s organized and has tons of music you want. Ask if there is an extra charge for music that isn’t on their Online Event Planner database. Finally, make sure you have the ability to ask the DJ to stick to your custom online event planner as you have put them in writing, and they reflect what you envision for your wedding reception.

How Well Do They Communicate?

Before the big day, you should have the opportunity to speak or meet with your DJ and let them know what you expect from the night. This is an opportunity to verify that they are receptive, listening to your wishes and offering suggestions to make the night run smoothly. Playing your custom song list is only part of the job for a wedding DJ. The other part is emceeing the reception and other service providers, like your photographer and venue staff. They will give verbal cues to the guests about what’s going on and what’s coming next, where to direct their attention for the cake cutting, when it’s time for speeches, and the first dance.